Dark Acts in a Small Town

This blog may be triggering for some readers!

‘Trecia Ann’ was just another kid, in another small town, growing up in Southern Illinois. She grew up in another time when we didn’t yet know about trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Domestic Violence, and Human Trafficking. Back then we never, ever, talked about what happened inside our homes. Back then we never sought therapy or talked about substance abuse problems (including alcohol). Back then we absolutely never discussed the rage and harm; the horrific types of terror that haunted the walls of many homes. Today this old generation accounts for an estimated fifty-million adult survivors carrying around memories and wounds from dark acts that happened then. Unfortunately, these same tragedies still involve hundreds of thousands of children in many forms of maltreatment and suffering, and STILL go unreported in our small towns.

‘Trecia Ann’ was just another little girl who wanted to play football with her brother and friends in the courtyard. She wanted to play with her ‘Micky Mouse’ gumball machine. She carried around the three foot tall nurse doll her dad had just given her for her birthday. She had only just turned five and celebrated her birthday with her father, grandparents, and all those she knew as family. Instantly her life would change forever. She would never see or hear from her father and his family again. As she and her brother went running inside from the bitter cold upon returning home that evening; the man who sat on her couch terrified her instantly, deeply. The girl will never forget tripping over her own feet, suddenly colder than the winter winds outside. Honestly, it’s a fear that still haunts her today. His memory often still causes the hair on the back of her neck and arms to literally stand up and tingle.

She endured her first sexual contact just two weeks later and there was absolutely nothing gentle about it. He did it with fury and complete disregard that she was just a small child. He did it in front of two neighbor boys and her older brother when he had offered to babysit on the night of her mother’s bridal shower. She had never experienced anything like this and when he forced his tongue down her throat, she felt herself vomit. When he grabbed at her body, it hurt in a way she had never felt before. When he threw her off the couch, yelling for her to keep the ‘secret’; to hold back her tears and her screams; ‘If you say anything to your mother, they will take you away. Not me!’ She sat silently, tearfully, filled with terror as she watched her mother marry this man; ‘This is your new dad. Give him a hug and a kiss!’

Every time she bathed he was there. Sometimes he would give instructions. Sometimes he would do it himself. It didn’t stop as she got older. Even at nine her mother sat just in the other room as he walked right in and closed the door behind him. When she yelled out for her mom to say something, she heard nothing. He constantly stalked and lurked when she bathed, the last incident occurred during a short stay when she was forty years old.

She was also nine the first time he loaded his shotgun and held it to her head. He was having an argument with his sister visiting from out of town. One minute ordering the child to do something, the next growling ugly adjectives he often used to describe her. He stormed down the hall and returned loading two shells into the shotgun, cocking the barrel and holding it just an inch from her head with his finger on the trigger. She was just nine years old when he called her in from playing with her brother and sister in the yard, locked the door behind him and ordered her into his bedroom. This was when her mother walked in and caught him as he attempted his first actual rape. However, rather than helping or comforting her young daughter her mother yelled and sent her to her room for the night.

This was when that small town little girl first took off running. The first time she ran to the cemetery, taking cover behind a big headstone. Flooding the soil with her tears as she begged God to help her; ‘Please make me a boy! Please take him away!’ She would always remain hidden until her mother came searching, then always took her back home. Her mother always promised the child it wouldn’t happen again. It always did and usually more intense because she had ran or because she had talked about what happened! Between the ages of nine and twelve ‘Trecia Ann’ ran away three times to escape his attacks, but instead of ending, it just kept getting worse. Then at twelve he finally did something so dark, so terrorizing, so disturbing that she never rebelled again. She never said a word to anyone or refused him. She never cried, never screamed, and most certainly never asked for help; not for anything from anyone.

She knew nothing would never change. He would never stop. Her mother would never do anything, and in fact would not only continue to enforce more family and household responsibilities; cook, caregiver, housemaid, but most important; now she was his slave. In every literal sense, the girl grew up knowing she was the only one ordered to answer the ring of a little brass bell her mother had purchased. Regardless of other siblings typically found doing typical things; in their room with music, doing homework, out with friends, or even sitting in the same room. It was her daily existence when the school bell rang at the end of the day, the rest of the kids were talking about plans for their evening fun; ‘Trecia Ann’ knew that she was going home to hell. It didn’t matter if the rest of the family, or often family friends dropping by, ‘Trecia Ann’ knew she had no choice and no voice. She had to jump immediately. Nothing mattered except running to him immediately every time she heard that ring or he simply ordered her presence.

She was only eleven when he arranged the first private party with boys from that same small town. There were five young boys she was ordered to invite. He told her what to wear, what to do, and what to allow the boys to do to her. When he and her mother arrived back home that first time, he wanted to hear all the dirty details of which one did what and how much she liked it. She was about twelve when he started taking her to the little bar up the street where most of them knew her because her mother actually worked there. The bartender served her double vodka with orange juice to hide the alcohol from others, but as she stumbled around and slurred her words anyone could tell the young girl was drunk.

He enjoyed the power the little girl gave him over the luring men, as much as he enjoyed how well she obeyed his demands. He ordered her to play the jukebox, dance this way, walk that way; seduce the much older men to buy him a glass of draft beer, and another drink for the child. He soaked in the thrill of asking which one the child thought was cute, or which one of the men wanted to take the drunken girl outside to the car. He started arranging parties with adult men, some of whom she had babysat their own children now and then. The house phone would ring about ten or eleven o’clock on a Friday night. He would talk to her mother and then the young girl; ordering her to put on certain clothes, get drinks ready, put the porn tape in the VCR, and be sure to wash the stench off of her filth covered body.

By the time she was thirteen years old, never really knowing when he would attack or demand her response, the constant burden of duties and care for her younger sister; ‘Trecia Ann’ was never given time for personal care and had no clue what healthy hygiene for a developing young girl even meant. She wasn’t provided with medical or dental care. She only used a toothbrush to scrub the crevices and corners of the house. Sometimes she used her finger and some toothpaste to clean the ugly taste out of her mouth. Her teeth were all decaying, but four front teeth were actually black broken fangs. As she got older she desperately tried rolling up little pieces of bread to make her own fillings in hopes that others wouldn’t shame her so badly. Unfortunately it rarely ever worked.

It was a total of twelve long years the growing young child was beaten and violently molested, raped, enslaved, exploited, sold publicly and shared with boys she attended school with daily. Her mother became hugely complicit, especially in the trafficking and enslavement, showing complete disregard of human kindness or basic care. She allowed this one child, whom she had previously shown such love and care, but as the child rotted in stench and decay her mother added to the shaming comments. The child’s was covered with infected sores, which she scratched and scraped at through the nights of tears and terror as she tried to calm herself. Never receiving help or concern from anyone, she could only exist ashamed and disgusted by her own reflection. Decades later she can’t erase what happened, and the layers of pitted scars and broken smile still result in judgement and shame.

Just another child in another small town, attending the same school system for six consecutive years during the very worst of the violence, enslavement, exploitation and sex trafficking. The boys would attend the parties at her house over the years filled with all the treats young teens enjoy; alcohol, marijuana, and a young girl he offered out. There are many of those parties that turned violent against her, or he would threaten them if they didn’t take her in the room; ‘You better do it like I tell you or I’m going to beat the hell out of you.’ He growled and fought with the boys until they accepted her fate and just did what was ordered.

The girls at school saw the girl’s exposed rotting body every day in gym class. Over the years she was covered with welt marks and bruises, layers of filth and infection. They whispered amongst each other. They shamed her and discarded her. The teachers yelled about her incomplete homework, failure to participate in class, called her stupid and lazy, actually avoided physical contact with the child so they didn’t catch whatever was eating away at her flesh.

The local law enforcement knew the stepfather well. He was the town’s meanest drunk and her mother had made sure all the bar owners knew when she was going out of town. The police knew the girl and her family. They were ‘the family’ that everyone talked about; felt pity for the woman married to him. This woman was never threatened or harmed in any way by this man. This woman was warned about him by his own older son before they married. The girl’s mother was complicit in everything that happened. She could have made him stop at any time, but instead she enjoyed not having to deal with his darkest acts and having someone else responsible for cleaning her home, scrubbing and polishing from morning to night every weekend. Someone else cooking all the dinners and doing all the dishes, caring for her youngest child and making certain that absolutely no one even raised their voice at her youngest child. Trecia Ann’s mother had the power and ability to stop all of the dark acts in that small house, but she chose to sacrifice her once happy child instead.

The tragedy of being just another child in another small town is knowing that in all that was witnessed, all the acts that people saw or willingly took part in, the stench and rot they avoided, the girl they kept their sons from dating, the house they would refuse their daughters to enter; as evil as they knew that girl endured, yet they stayed silent. They condemned her, nicknamed her, whispered about her, but not once offer any kind of help.

This one single child endured it all and as you see, she still carries the scars and broken smile of tragedy. She became an alcoholic, a drug abuser, didn’t have a clue how to survive on her own. The only value she had ever been taught about herself was the cheap price of her body. As she went from one violent abuser to the next; all it took was a single act of kindness to trick her into believing it was safe, it was good, it was love. She became a confused, but truly nurturing and deeply loving mother. The kind of mother she had remembered her mother being in her very early years. She struggled and internalized all those years of evil, because no matter what anyone ever did to her; she’d already walked her entire life through hell and survived!

Now much older, Trecia Ann endures constant pain from all the injuries. She can’t erase past memories, attempted suicide, chronic lung disease, fibromyalgia, spinal cord trauma, concentration and memory challenges likely related to decades of violent head trauma and multiple concussions. Instead of being healthy and active in her late fifties, her pain riddled body just wants to see real change happen. She wants to see change that will engage others to seek help and report dark acts in a small town. She wants to encourage and empower families to address and heal from the torment they endured so they can be more positive and supportive for their children. She wants healthcare, victim services, substance abuse providers, educators, law enforcement, and most definitely neighbors to speak up and help those who suffer in silence and stigma every day. Dark acts happen in our families and is still quite active in our small towns.

Trecia Ann hopes you know; ‘Your response matters! You hold the power to help rescue not just that child; you could change the future for generations to come.’

Thank you for reading! Please keep sharing a message of hope and help so we can bring an end to the all too common challenges of harm, trafficking, mental illness, substance abuse, neglect and maltreatment of those we love. We are all human beings and every being is granted basic human rights to safety and equality. Homes do not have to be perfect, but acts of cruelty become far worse when good people choose to do nothing!

As survivor leader of Butterfly Dreams Alliance NFP; we hope you will help bring awareness to the struggles of our families and children in small towns and big cities across the country!

Advocate/Author/Survivor

Trish McKnight ~always believe anything is possible with you in the active equation

My voice is ‘My Justice’

This blog started back in 2011 right after publishing ‘My Justice’, and in finding my peace, I have been inspired to make my journey public. You might think like I do…. ‘What makes her story so special?’ Absolutely nothing! I’ve told myself that since the very beginning, which is why it reads ‘a novel by’ on the cover. I honestly felt then and still do; my life (in any form) does not deserve anything special. It is, however, a very true story; clearly stated in the book’s bio, but definitely in no way anything specifically special about what happened. There are hundreds who have published their stories. Millions who are survivors today. My body is still covered with the physical scars, decayed broken teeth, but amazingly not all the emotional chaos and triggers I once carried. I still feel those doubts and fears. I still feel some of the shame and guilt in my adult choices, but my history made me who I am; a survivor!

Today I’m in a phenomenal place! I’ve been in a stable, kind, loving relationship for fifteen years. He was the key to my recovery and I had zero expectations when we met. I had no clue he would be someone who would truly care about all those deep dark sorrows. It amazed me when he listened and experienced the many ugly, tear-filled healing moments of my recovery. He heard all of the tragedies that created the submissive, alcoholic, shattered woman who was curled up crying like an infant; screaming as I asked how he could love someone like me, but amazingly he admired the woman who had somehow made it through.

The relationship gave me the deep sense of peace and acceptance I had always longed to find. He gave me safety, admiration, gentleness. It was fabulous! So, why in the world would past creep back in and threaten all the beauty of this life? It almost broke us. I wasn’t sure how to handle this huge change in my life pattern of bad choices. This is when the dreams came rushing in the night. It was when I couldn’t sit still and my head was pounding constantly. It was a change that brought about many physical diagnoses from injuries and my third nervous breakdown, (breakthrough). Little did I realize that in my journey to find counseling for my physical pain, I would connect with a therapist who asked me to dig through my history to better understand, which then helped me put down those heavy bricks I’d been carrying.

In quite the literal sense, my voice started as this twisting knot burning in my spine, then came charging out with fire fueled by rage and pain. I journaled each day; forcing myself to work through each memory; both good and bad. My only focus was getting it out of my system. There was no intention of taking those painful entries and turning them into anything public. It was just a way to get the chaos of a lifetime out of my head. Writing it out helped me put it into little sections of time and deal with each one in it’s own grieving process.

When we got a new desktop I started researching every word of information, every possible connected study about why my history was causing all of the present problems. I searched out different types of self help and recovery tools. When the pain and injuries got out of control I was forced to give up working. This meant I lost my benefits and along with the benefits went my therapist. There I was trying to hang on desperately to my amazing new life, but crumbling in all that had surfaced; lingering in turmoil through the quiet moments each day. I was trying to figure out how to express the intensity of those fears and tears ‘Trecia Ann’ wasn’t allowed to release. It was screaming, crying, judging, hugging, comforting the unbelievable child that endured; not only did she endure but she grew into a mothering soul. She had lived her life comforting and serving everyone except herself.

My voice flowed into my fingers, but I had to give myself time to start at the beginning, in a good place; the young child of divorce carried some of my favorite memories. Then, the instant when I came face to face with the evil that destroyed who I was right down to instilling a hatred of everything I was; feeling my very existence was horrendous on it’s own. It was only two weeks later when that same evil first violently molested me in front of my brother and two neighbor boys on the night of my mother’s bridal shower. He attacked with terror and force for more than a decade; both parents committing acts that would silence me for the next thirty years.

In every keystroke I felt more powerful. It was a terrible process that lasted nine long months, and that was just trying to write it through. For me, love and acceptance was everything, but I was taught to suffer severe attacks to be deserving of whatever little good happened to spark through. The worst of everything was that I grew up in the middle of town, attended the same school system everyday, grew up around family, neighbors, classmates, and JOHNS who passed through our home. It was all allowed to happen fiercely and publicly, which meant it was pretty much the only way I knew how to survive until my late thirties when I began to see what my tolerance was doing to my own children.

My voice was My Justice when I touched the keyboard and let ‘Trecia Ann’ tell her own story. She took complete control and I allowed her to surface in every way possible. Both good and bad I needed to give her control so I could begin enjoying and experiencing all the happiness in life, building new incredible ‘normal’ mom relationships with my children, and actually being loved through every moment of the years to follow. This is what I have gained in first accepting that I absolutely needed to follow this journey through my past if I wanted to experience all the happy moments that I am blessed to experience today.

My voice was My Justice because laws were not in place to allow any form of legal repercussions and since it was my parents, being public meant losing all those distorted family connections; breaking that obligation of secrets and silence. This is how it worked out for most survivors of these acts that could never be described in legal language and most definitely was not discussion through general public.

It wasn’t a crime to beat your children; being molested was pretty much expected. We had a written law, which was an addendum to the Social Security Act, signed back in 1963. The Statute of Limitations on that law against child abuse, only allowed for three years after the last act of abuse. Then, through many more years, it was written to give ten years after sexual abuse (if there was a previous report made). This was Illinois law until 2016! This is when the first law allowing a Zero Statute of Limitations was signed into state law. This applied to sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault of a minor. It did not apply to trafficking of a minor. Guess what became my new mission!

In 2014, with the support of a few really incredible advocates, the research began to amend the law to include involuntary servitude/sexual servitude of a minor, and trafficking in persons of a minor. This would extend the statutes to permit a minimum of twenty-five years after victim’s eighteenth birthday! The update was signed into law three years later, August 2017, as an amendment to Illinois kidnapping statutes. Today survivors who have experienced these atrocious acts can choose to bring forth charges of criminal or civil action. There is now a path to legal justice for those who needs, and should be permitted, to imprison their offender even if that offender is/was a parent.

My voice was My Justice when I chose to become an advocate. I built a public profile on Facebook and started by promoting the book, but it became so much more in trying to help other survivors and victims, that it is now almost nil about the book. It became about building relationships and connecting as a source of hope and help. It became hosting a blog talk radio program for advocacy and support for others to feel encouraged to share their own story anonymously via the public radio format.

Little by little I saw this amazing army of survivors who discussed available research on trauma recovery to connect the dots and rebuild. We discussed the grief of what happened, along with the challenges and losses of going public, the lack of legal action, the all too common familial history that created a cracked and crumbling foundation in our adulthood. We interviewed other amazing survivors who had become advocates, published child sexual abuse prevention books and programs. We discussed recovery services, community attitudes, generational and all other connected problems with mental/emotional challenges, physical injuries, substance addictions, sexual promiscuity, relationships, criminal behavior, and the worst of all; the cycle of creating abusive personalities from their own deep trauma.

My voice is still My Justice in the creation of Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP; a reliable source of help and a charitable trust for almost three full years. Helping more than one hundred clients, becoming part of the task force and changes throughout Illinois. This is pretty outstanding when I think about where I was ten years ago. Personally, I’m betting that ‘Bink’ often wishes I was still the ‘silent little mouse’ he met all those years ago. Of course, I’m speaking comically in that comment. I think a part of him will always want the fun living, risk taking woman he met, but I also know he respects the journey and the cause that have become the purpose created from three decades of tragedy.

If you’re a victim or survivor of abuse, violence, sexual harm or human trafficking, the first thing I recommend is appreciating the power of your voice. You don’t have to seek legal action, but you can. You don’t have to talk with a therapist, but you can. You don’t have you rely on just one source of help, and I’m willing to bet you will need at least a few different resources and tools to help you through.

Letting your voice be your justice is the greatest gift you can give to that wounded soul still hiding in the shadows of shame. Let your voice release the burden of blame, shame, and secrets. Let it breathe, scream, cry, plead, and be your testimony of truth. Your truth matters. Your voice matters. Your tears and fears matter. In every person who has been harmed or distorted by the human history of childhood destruction, you carry everything you need to reclaim and rebuild your life. You are not what happened to you. Those are moments in your history. You survived because you have a future and that future is not filled with torment and pain. It is waiting for you, and I do hope you take a chance to really change all those sorrows into brighter happier moments and memories.

‘All things are possible with you in the active equation’ —

Thank you to all those who have walked this journey with me and encouraged me to create ‘My Justice’.

Domestic Violence ~ It is not just about that moment, it is the impact on our future.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. BDA invites you to our virtual town hall and vigil on Oct 28th, 6-8pm cst, via ZOOM. Watch our Facebook event page for more information and the link to join the conversation live!

Unfortunately, the year of 2020 is unlike any other; mandatory quarantines and job loss created a toxicity of stress factors much worse than what we have seen in the past century. This year our loved ones, neighbors, especially the kids are at a much higher risk than some can imagine.

Maybe you think it can’t be that bad. ‘Certainly the police or someone would be involved if there was any real problem.’

‘Sure they fight with each other; I’ve heard it go on for years’

‘Sure we get called to that house four or five times a year, maybe more’

‘Sure I’ve noticed some changes in this student; they seem distant, don’t finish their homework, their appearance and their behavior have changed. They seem easily agitated and act out in class.’

These are just some of the comments from family, neighbors, law enforcement, educators. All witnessing basic Warning Sings of some type of abuse or struggle in their life, but most of us aren’t really sure if we should get involved. As a child who grew up in constant fear, a woman, a mother, a wife who desperately walked on eggshells every day and was actually terrified of the one who said ‘I love you’; decades of my life were spent silently praying for someone to help me find a way out, not just for me, but more importantly to change the environment for my children.

Domestic Violence isn’t just about the direct violence in the relationship. It involves completely dominating your partner’s life. It’s verbal insults, accusations, and degradation. It’s threats of harm to other persons or perhaps the pets or employer, coworkers. It’s blaming and shaming victims to all others so the abuser can make themselves seem perfect. This is all a tactic to keep their victims in their control and ensure that neighbors, family, schools, and even law enforcement stay out of the ‘family business’.

Abusers and their victims may suffer from anger, depression, anxiety. They may react in outbursts of rage, punch walls, throw things around, make threats with weapons, suffer substance use problems, or their own long term mental illness or trauma related behaviors and triggers. Domestic Violence can lead to a destructive future and a learned tolerance of harm that just might become the only ‘normal’ our children learn. It leaves us vulnerable to other abusers. It causes kids to be lured into other dangerous or risk taking behaviors; internet meet ups, in appropriate pictures or interactions with online predators, perhaps they learn to use drugs, alcohol, cutting, and eating problems as a coping strategies to mask their true suffering.

We don’t have to feel helpless in these situations. There are more resources of help than ever before. There is rebuilding and support for recovery; there is education and training for professionals. There is always something we can do when we suspect possible harm or struggles. First we have to recognize changes and address them directly.

Family and friends; ‘As someone who cares about you, can I ask if things are okay? I’ve noticed a few things that make me a little concerned. Is there anything I can do or would you like to talk about things?’

Law enforcement, Children’s Services, Advocates; ‘What do the adults say about what’s happening? What do the children say? What did they see or hear in the heated moments? Has anyone made any threats, pulled a weapon, or caused direct harm? How long has this turmoil been happening?’ Maybe you will do an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) evaluation? Maybe you need to provide a Lethality Assessment? Either of these tools can be found on the internet and are quite useful to help give victims a proven perspective about what’s really happening and just how much they are minimizing the actual level of harm. I commonly use both of these assessments when I talk with victims of violence or sexual harm.

The ACE score represents their past, what types of fears and traumas they’ve experienced that might cause them to believe things really aren’t that bad.

The Lethality Assessment gives a real look into the relationship or the offender’s actions. Allows victims to see just how dangerous things really are and how they might be escalating. This assessment should always be provided in Domestic Violence, along with hotline numbers and local responding advocacy services.

Educators you play an important role in your student’s life. You see them day after day, so other than parents and siblings; you likely interact more with them than any other person. When you see a collective of changes in a student, you can help by first trying to build a closer circle of trust with that student. List your concerns; late or incomplete homework, changes in appearance, signs of neglect, anger, bullying, or shutting down, isolating themselves from friends or being constantly distant. You can take your list and ask other teachers who associate with the student if they’ve noticed any changes. You can team up on behalf of the student, take your concerns to school social workers and administration. If you submit a report to Children’s Services, please explain it to the student. Help the understand that it might be a little scary, but it’s important to get help so they and their families can get better.

Community members can help by being vigilant, especially for the children in your neighborhood. You might not see the children for days, but when you do something seems different about them. You hear fighting but no sure if someone is being hurt, you can always call for a well check and report what’s happening. Remember that only a very few will actually be privy to the abuse or witness an act of harm. What you see from a distance is just the outside layers of what is probably something much worse behind closed doors.

As we speak out across the nation for equality and safety, we as a society must choose to do the right thing when we suspect an abusive or violent situation. We must realize that in all the protests for our human rights, we cannot dismiss those who suffer in these types of environments. Domestic Violence changes all of those in the family, so in rebuilding and supporting to keep ‘Family First’ in tact, we will have to help victims feel safe today, but we will also have to help them reclaim their own identiy and rebuild their dreams for an independent sustainable and productively positive direction forward.

When we choose to do nothing. When we choose to tolerate the harm and ignore the suffering of others, this is when we give power to the generational trauma and harmful behaviors that have existed throughout human history. All things are possible and you really can make a difference, but we first have to be part of the equation!!

Thank you for reading. Please visit http://www.thehotline.org for resources and 24/7 crisis support across the country. You can find out more about Butterfly Dreams Alliance and the different topics we are here to help change by visiting our website; http://www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

Abuse and violence, sexual harm and human trafficking, are all power and control over another human being. You can give that person back at least some of their power, when you stand with them, acknoweldge them, ensure their rights to a safe home, while we help others heal from past trauma to be more positive parents for their children.

We all have the power to do something! You just might be the hero who changes the direction and helps heal the trauma, which will then create a new ripple effect of goodness for generations to come.

‘Trish’ McKnight

CEO; Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP

Advocate/Author/Survivor

Longterm Healthcare for Survivors of Human Trafficking

General society, in America, believe human trafficking happens in other countries. So I ask; ‘What about the thousands of survivors existing in small communities and urban neighborhoods right here?’

My experience was growing up in the typical small Illinois community of Freeburgh where I was publicly exploited and traded for the price of a couple of beers for five consecutive years, 1974 – 1979. Now maybe you like to think that was back then and could never happen in my community today, but if you’ve seen the headlines you know this is not a truth you can believe any longer.

There were many people who know what was happening then, not just the men and boys who were at the parties and such, but those who whispered, pointed, shamed, even went as far as to keep their children away from the house on North Richland Street. Their daughters were not permitted to befriend me and their sons not allowed to date me. This was my public, everyday life throughout my teenage years.

Here is an article I read this morning as published in 2015, Medical News Today. A study completed by researchers from London focused on the health of survivors. These past few years I’ve seen the huge swing in the trainings, even been honored to attend and take part in various studies, interviews, and speaking venues. Finally, we can say that American psychologist and healthcare experts are realizing just how severe this problem in on a national and world health level.

Some of their finding;

  • 48% experienced physical and/or sexual violence
  • 35% women and girls suffered sexual violence
  • 20% were locked in a room
  • 47% were threatened
  • 22% serious bodily injury (only 28% of those received any form of medical care)
  • 61.2% suffer depression
  • 42.8%  suffer anxiety
  • 38.9% PTSD
  • 5.2% attempted suicide

It’s important to note – ‘No single profile of a trafficked person’. This means men, women, children of all ages, different countries, all different experiences -‘None believed there was help’. The researchers also stress that global efforts are inadequate!

Honestly, it’s quite difficult for society to comprehend the levels of harm and destruction of those held in exploitation or trafficking. Both labor and sex trafficking victims are held in captivity and service by extreme force, often terroristic attacks. This was indeed my case, at it still in for hundreds of thousands of children in Americal today, let alone around the world where the laws and resources are not available.

At fifty-six today, let me assure you the multi-level physical, sexual, and emotional injuries I endured never received any medical care. There was never a question of concern by those who actually witnessed violent attacks, saw all the bruises and shamed me because of the filth, rot, stench and decay that smothered my developing body. Not a school nurse, teacher, police officer, neighbor, or family friend even acknowledged there was a rotting child being brutally beaten and traded right in front of their eyes.

The life path and suffering lasted long after my escape from my parents and their enslavement. For two decades I endured almost deadly violent relationships and the multitude of injuries have come back to haunt my abilities in the extreme.

My injuries:

  • Multiple concussions and head trauma
  • Twelve years of sadistic molestation and rape
  • Once open sores now scars over 75% of my body
  • Broken, decays front teeth at age thirteen, turned into decades of dental problems
  • Spinal Cord Trauma, resulting in multi-level Syringomyelia
  • Multi-level disc and vertebral injuries
  • Cracked ribs
  • Both collar bones broken
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Complex PTSD
  • Depression
  • Generalized (constant) anxiety
  • Attempted Suicide
  • Tens years pain management
  • Seven consecutive years in trauma therapy

I am a healthcare nightmare!!!

The impact of my childhood and the horrors of all those years in hell are far worse than anyone can imagine. Only those who’ve experienced this torture can understand what it’s like trying to explain the ‘Why & What’ of all your injuries to the everyday physician or specialist.

Two years ago I went to see a new neurologist for evaluation of care due to increasing nerve damage and function, along with conversational challenges I have been noticing. As SHE examined me, it was summer so I was in shorts & a t-shirt. She looked at all my scars, my still broken teeth, and although I explained the cause, she looked at me and stated; ‘You need to get this fixed. You look like a Methhead’!!

Way to go doc!! More guilt and shame. I couldn’t respond because the tears started to well up in my eyes. Crushed by a few words, she sent me reeling into my darkest memories all over again. In fact, I have not had the courage to go in for another evaluation since. It’s all just part of my injuries and I have to do my best to live in this aftermath of hell.

Up until age forty-seven, I was a self-sustaining, single mother of three and a proud, productive member of society. My third nervous breakdown came when my dizziness, migraines and constant numbness became too much. When I finally went to see someone, I was three days in the hospital and extensive MRI’s which revealed just how bad my spine and head had been injured.

The end result is having to be on disability because I’m lucky to get two or three productive days a week; lucky to cook a meal, do my laundry, clean my house. I just have to keep going because to me those little things matter. For the past ten years, it’s been Medicare and Social security. Thank goodness my kids are grown because I honestly couldn’t take care of them.

How much do you think my healthcare and pain management, MRI’s and specialists have cost? The extensive dental problems have been estimated at above seven thousand dollars by a local dentist. Where in the world is that money supposed to come from? That kind of coverage is not part of any medical insurance I’ve ever had, so I just try not to smile or cover my mouth.

All of this is the everyday reality of My Survivor Health. It’s this difficult for anyone who has gone through these types of brutal actions and violations, torture and captivity. Thankfully, I’ve finally found a primary physician who has taken the time to understand and actually care about my wellbeing. Honestly, I wouldn’t leave her care for the sheer challenge of trying to explain everything all over again.

If we can engage our neighbors, healthcare providers, educators, law enforcement, and social services to recognize, report, respond to provide the earliest possible intervention and help, then we can and will reduce the billions of dollars spent every year for longterm care and rebuilding of human beings who have been victims of abuse, violence, and human trafficking. We can reduce the numbers of victims when we show we care and notice the little reactions and behaviors, the welfare of the children around us.

One last thing to stress; Do everything with empathy and compassion because you will never know the true nightmares another is trying to survive!!

Thanks for reading!!

@Butterfly_Trish

#HumanTrafficking #healthcare #survivors

 

When facing your history is your worst fear

Survivors face many rebuilding roadblocks, one of these is facing our past. We’ve lived so long trying to bury and ignore what’s happened, that we feel facing the harms is more than we can handle. This is true for most of the survivors I’ve spoken with over the years.

Keep in mind that the term ‘Survivors’ in this discussion is those persons who have endured physical and/or sexual harm as children, but also those who have experienced dominance and fear so intense it included weapons threats or personal violations for teens and adults as well. Whether we are discussing acts from childhood or acts in adult relationships, this fear of actually verbalizing what happened can be the worst challenge you face because you are intentionally putting yourself in that memory. Most have endured the aftermath in the behavior of ignoring, moving on with their lives or simply refusing to deal with it at all. Unfortunately, this typically causes us to misuse substances from illicit drugs to alcohol in order to silence that fear. However, when you sober up or crash from your high that fear is still pounding inside.

This is where some of these suggestions might help:

If the fear you are carrying is causing distress enough that you have to be high or intoxicated, chances are it’s also affecting any sense of a healthy relationship so those closest to you will also be influenced by forcing yourself to live with the experiences.

Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP – highly recommends connecting with a therapist. In the past five years, our therapists/psychiatrists have become more informed about the Trauma Care client. While connecting with other survivors in online support groups is a very useful tool, perhaps this is not a service option for you or maybe you need a more one on one process to help you face the worst of those fears; helping you get a foundation started and ensure local resources in your area.

There is absolutely NO right or wrong process of rebuilding!! Everyone experiences things in a different way. We all have different tolerances of pain and fear so while one act might be quite traumatic for one person, it might be less impactful for someone else.

If you are a survivor of childhood physical or sexual harm, your emotional growth and life development are halted. There are behaviors, emotional responses, learning capabilities that are stunted because the sense of continuous fear rewires our frontal-lobe development which is our decision making, perception, and emotional control brain function. If all of this is not able to develop in a healthy pattern, we become stunted in these areas and it will affect almost every survivor far into adulthood; often until they allow themselves to face those harmful situations.

It’s important to understand you could do nothing to protect yourself then, but today you can not only defend yourself physically but emotionally as well. You can decide when you think about these situations and how you react when you do. You can control when you express suppressed emotions and how this causes reactions to others around you. You can face the fear because if you are in a safe environment today, then the harm is only a memory. It cannot hurt you. It will allow that child who couldn’t scream, cry, fight back or run back then to do all of those things today. You will begin to see your child self as an incredible hero for helping you stay alive to build and live the life you want today. You will feel empowered as you face these fears one by one. Don’t rush through because it will overwhelm you and can cause your reactions to become harmful or erratic towards others or yourself.

If you are an adult there are going to be some differences in your recovery. You have built life experiences and knowledge. However, if from an adverse childhood these may not be healthy experiences so your depression, anxiety, defenses and parenting is different from those with healthy, strong, positive upbringing. Many adults who’ve experienced childhood harm learn to build up a resilience to these violent or hurtful acts. You can tolerate more or might even believe, there is nothing this person can do that is worse than what you’ve gone through already. DO NOT DISMISS THE DEEP FEAR THAT EXISTS EVEN IF YOU COME FROM THE BEST ENVIRONMENT.

An adult’s sense of guilt and shame is different because you had options. They were probably not good options, but they were there. Anyone can become a victim of adult violence or sexual harm. It is not about anything you have done to cause these acts, but rather it’s the choice of the person who is causing this suffering to act against you in these hurtful ways. If it is typical domestic violence, which involves financial, emotional, sexual, physical and life-threatening control; perhaps you if you hadn’t done this or done this better they would not hurt you, so you keep trying. You may feel guilty about how it is affecting your children, even if they’re not in the home at the time. They come home or see you again; someone’s crying, someone’s hurt, someone’s angry. They feel this and absorb it as something they did that caused it to happen.

In facing your fears it is learning how to look at the real options you had at that time. Did family or friends support you or offer to help you? Was there any service that would have helped you get on your feet and keep your children? Could you have provided a home, food, and necessities for yourself and them without that other person? Could you really walk away and start your life over, maybe with absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back? It’s important to understand how and why people stay in harmful, dominating, controlling situations and then forgive yourself because you probably made the best choice you could at that time in the given options you had.

Regardless if you are a childhood survivor, an adult survivor, a survivor of human trafficking and captivity; the best you can do is get safe and start working towards your own rebuilding. It is not about how others feel you should do this or that, it’s about you and what you need to process so that you can live the life you deserve. The most important part is for you to truly feel like you are in a safe place in your life. Many postpone for years, some decades until we have a steady income, our kids are grown, we have a home, or are in a stable loving relationship before they can even think about what’s happened. This is why most childhood survivors don’t reveal anything happened until their mid 30’s or older. It takes time and you have to be ready because life challenges will cause distractions which will halt your progress.

Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP is a survivor recovery and rebuilding resource and we are very happy to be of help. We are just ONE of the thousands across the country, so our best advice is to be cautious because it is YOUR recovery. You have to use whatever method or many methods best suit you. You may need various tools from various resources, and coping strategies that will help you face your worst fears then conquer over it. The focus is strictly on your getting better, getting healthier, preventing future harm, and helping your children deal with any problems they may be struggling with because of either harm to them or harm inside their environment.

We are starting a collaboration with the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, (NAASCA). You will see more on our developing ‘Survivors World’ Zoom Meetings. The NAASCA website is primarily for adult survivors. They can connect you with other survivors across the country and around the world. Their leading survivors are strong advocates and peers who have gone through or are still going through their recovery, so it’s one of many great support systems. Remember that a qualified, trusted therapist is also important, especially if you are trying to face some really extreme fears. No one can tell you how bad your fear, anger, sadness is because only you have endured the experience.

You will see below some tools which I found useful in my ten focused years of rebuilding. Many of these tools I still use today, because this is a long journey. Many of us find that fear and darkness, difficulty concentrating, or completing small tasks are a continuing challenge. This is something that has helped me understand my tolerances, the rewiring of my perceptions and acceptable “normal” pattern of life. It’s helped me help many others, so I do hope it will help those reading this blog.

recovery steps

When you choose it’s time to face your worst fears, focus on all that is positive in your life. Keep in mind that the simplest of safety, shelter, food, employment, healthcare; all of this is positive because you are making it happen for you.

Your dreams matter!! Your wellness matters!! YOU MATTER!!

Thanks for reading

‘Trish’ McKnight

Advocate/Survivor

Seasonal depression makes the holidays a challenge!!

miracles-happen.jpg The reports from Centers for Disease & National Institute of Mental Health both show that there is no rate increase of suicide during the cold holiday months. In fact, most get a heightened spirit and probably don’t want to miss any hopeful celebrations that might give them hope for life.

Now I’d have to say that while the numbers of actual suicides reduce during this time, I believe stress, depression, anxiety; emotional challenges increase. If you come from a positive life the holidays are exciting, or maybe just a little difficult to get along with some family at these gatherings. If the holidays are filled with outrageous expectations either financially or in having the perfect holiday home; this alone can be quite pressing, but doesn’t usually cause any suicidal thoughts or major depression problems; more likely anxiety problems.

If you are an adult survivor of childhood abuse, either through parental mental illness, addictions, neglectful, imposed servitude, physical or sexual harm; your holiday with family might be completely out of the question. I do know many who go through the motions. They bury their fears, anxiety, and tears, do their best to fake the holiday excitement without ever saying a word about the difficulties they are battling as a result of these types of harms, even how difficult to be in the same room or house as their abuser. We continue on without ever confronting the subject and often the victims/survivors are the only ones who carry any emotions about what happened. The offenders usually never feel any remorse or guilt, rarely will they acknowledge or apologize. Most will say; ‘It’s just the way things were back then, get over it already’!!

For me the holidays are a huge challenge. I was raised as the caregiver for my brother and younger sister, but neither of them wants to believe or accept what our parents did to train and refuse even the most basic care or kindness to the enslaved child who cared for everyone else. They talk about the alcoholic rage, the violence, the constant late night parties; but not once acknowledge my having to answer his little brass bell or all the other insane attacks and prostitution that were especially worse during those last five years of my teen life. It’s been five years or more since I’ve talked to any of my relatives, or at least the ones I know anyway. My biological father’s family has made a few attempts but in our connections, it’s just casual contact via Facebook. A part of me wants to engage with them, the other side has no idea how to begin. I keep my family/friend contact close and it doesn’t reach out unless someone else is reaching out in that same cautious and distant manner. Close relationships are few and far between, but I really don’t get out to socialize much and of course, the cold makes it even more difficult.

During my younger holidays, I was the one to help with all the cleaning, starting the week before to get everything scrubbed and shined. I was given the responsibility for making all the pies and cleaning up all the mess from dinner with family and visitors. No one had to help, and after my dinner cigarette, it was time to get everything spot cleaned again. I couldn’t sit to watch tv or spend time without being called to serve drinks, clean messes, and making sure everyone else was taken care of, many times being the last one to sit and eat as the others carried on.

I lived in this sense of responsibility and constant pressure through all the special events and holiday dinners through my adult years. Everyone, through marriages, living in other countries, having my little kids; just all the years when life was so busy, the holiday times were much easier to handle and much more enjoyable.

Today the holidays for me are quiet, barely even recognized. If I’m lucky maybe there’s a phone call or a little special time out for my birthday, but as it is for most of us in older years; it’s just another day on the calendar. For me it’s been slowly getting worse, more emotionally challenging for over the past five years. It’s weird because I consider myself to be strong, a survivor, a changed and peaceful person. I don’t understand why the dark clouds and memories want to climb in like they do, but it really turns me upside down.

It could be related to the changes in my physical abilities. I can’t cook a full meal and do the dishes in the same day. My upper body burns like a hot iron rod being shoved through my spine, it’s honestly excruciating. I can’t clean my house like I used to, so my OCD has had to accept dusty shelves, and only weekly vacuuming. My cognitive abilities are changing and my feeling of usefulness is getting worse. There is a huge need to get something else in my life that will help me feel a purpose once again. Something that will help me become a better advocate and supportive resource in creating the needs we want to build in alliances with area resources.

Having to go on disability, being in pain management for ten years, and trying to not let the chronic injuries and pain take the brightness out of my spirit is a daily battle. One that is becoming exhausting but I know I will get there. I know I will be alright. It’s just the hanging on and always having these challenges that simply makes me isolate myself and shut down, rather than seek friendship and encouragement. Like always for each and every one of us who are in this same seasonal/daily funk; only we can change the dark by focusing on something truly good!!

Here’s hoping your holidays are pleasant, that family and friends gather for great fun. I turn fifty-six tomorrow but feel more like I’m eighty and done. I feel out of focus and out of energy. Is it too late to rejuvenate my spirit and help me find a way through the darkness that seems to climb into my world from Thanksgiving to Spring? Like many others, when springtime brings back growth and beauty; the blossom of life seems to create a light in my spirit and a renewed energy to keep fighting; not just to live, but to thrive!!

If you find you’re suffering from depression or challenging emotional triggers at any time, please know you’re not alone. The hotlines across the country are there to help. Survivors, you matter!! Your family matters!! Your sense of peace and happiness matters!! Don’t give up, even if you can’t figure a path right now. Hang in there, talk with your friends, find an advocate source either online or in your community.

Heart to heart, one hand to another, we can breathe life into others and inspire a safer, happier, healthier life journey.

To learn more about getting help for Suicidal thoughts or actions, for help and intervention services – a few links have been provided below. You can also find information through Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP; the foundation myself and a team of area experts are continuing to build to serve those throughout Clinton County and South-Central Illinois.

We cannot let the darkness win! Please fight for your spirit and your happiness!!

Wishing you a happy holiday season!!

Suicide Prevention – LifeLine – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Domestic Violence/Family Violence Hotline – https://www.thehotline.org/

Prevent Child Abuse America – http://preventchildabuse.org/

Mental Health  – What to look for – https://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/mood-disorders/sad

CDC Suicidal Facts & Myths – https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/holiday.html

Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP – http://www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

The voice waiting to be spoken

The past seven years I’ve spoken publicly about my ‘Adverse Childhood Experience’ and the life path of continued tolerance of violence. I’ve been extremely blessed to have made friendships and become a ‘Survivor Voice’ through various task force, trauma training, and community events here in Illinois, but even more so are all the survivors I’ve come to know from around the world and being a Regional Ambassador for National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, (NAASCA.org).

The most empowering part has only been happening for the past year since the #MeToo movement first began. It’s a change I know almost every survivor of violating/terrorizing trauma is also feeling; a spark deep inside for their own voice to be heard. When I first started speaking about my history, I was repeatedly told; ‘Your story is just too graphic‘. It actually caused a cancellation for Illinois Dept of Health Women’s Health Conference back in 2015.

It’s true. My story is absolutely horrific, but it’s not like I had much choice, especially during my childhood. It was the 70’s and it was a small rural Illinois mining town. There was not anyone who discussed objecting against any parent, much less getting involved. It wasn’t what we were taught and it’s not what our society believed was any of their business, mainly because it was all so normal.

Back then we hadn’t even begun to talk about child sexual abuse or child trafficking, which victims only connected with the term child sharing. I’ve written before about my case possibly being one of the worst cases of child abuse in Illinois history. Some of you may disagree but in owning ‘My Truth’ it’s truly empowering to know we are finally being encouraged to discuss some of the details of our experiences, especially when we are using those experiences in conjunction with the data & research of today, along with the growing numbers of victims/survivors getting involved to help change this dark course of pain.

The wheels of change move ever so slowly but nothing will change without your participation as a society. Now is the time if you have experienced violence, sexual harm or trafficking; it is okay to seek help and discuss the lasting trauma effects. I saw/shared a great post on Facebook; “The poison chalice of pain will be passed through your family until you decide to heal…’. This is so very true as I’ve learned first hand in the experiences of my children and grandchildren. Regardless of how my story is received, it is the absolute best decision I’ve made and I will never regret being the one in my family that stated with relentless determination; ‘I’m done’!!

Since this is my personal blog site, and for anyone who wants to change what the past has taught us, work to become the person you know you are meant to become; I want to encourage you to either reach out to me personally at trish@butterflydreamsalliance.org, visit our website www.butterflydreamsalliance.org or connect with www.naasca.org – help and support is available and we do not have to feel so isolated in our confusion and roller coaster life. All I ask is that you think about it; practice telling yourself in the mirror what happened to you, let the tears flow, and when you’re ready; connect with a support service or another survivor.

Reach out to find services and strategies to help you get stronger while you change the cycle of negative influence in your family. Remember that rebuilding is a very personal process and there is not one particular service or therapist, or survivor advocate who will work for every person. Our personalities, perceptions, resilience, and traumas are different, so having more than one helped me a great deal. However, for me, the greatest tool was the ‘Survivor to Thriver’ program through ASCAsupport.org; in rebuilding find what helps you most. There are thousands across the country.

More than anything else, for every silenced or isolated survivor there is at least one or more who are still victims. By educating about reporting, warning signs, early intervention, family wellness & rebuilding parents; by using our past we can absolutely change the future for our children and I hope that ‘My Justice’ continues to reach into the souls of our society and let them know just how important it is to help save a life while they are still young enough to know what real happiness and life success can be despite the hardships of their journey.

We can’t go back and change our history, but we can absolutely choose where and how we move forward today!! I hope that those who just won in our mid-term elections realizes just how important enhancing trainings and reaching out to create awareness in every small community is the only thing that will change our learned behaviors taught through anger, mental illness, addictions, and tolerated harm.

Thank you for reading. We are here in Clinton County, Illinois and we want to begin our ‘Survivors World’ support group sessions, and we are posting awareness signs throughout the area. If you wish to volunteer or get involved please contact me directly at the email given above.

We are all #StrongerTogether 🙂

‘Trish’ McKnight

Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP

PS – Some of my history as shared with this post of gratitude that somehow I made it through, some way, for whatever reason – I am still alive and I choose to LIVE!!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbutterflydreamsalliance%2Fposts%2F1998737430216360&width=500

 

Breathe – Change – Live

Are you holding your breath as we wait to hear the final decision about Brett Kavanaugh?

This is a time when survivors are being triggered because as we hear the details of cases come forward; each has its own similarities our history. It is in its true form, ‘Secondary Wounding‘ because we are waiting to see how the future of these types of crimes along with services for survivors and victims will play out. Because survivors either didn’t tell anyone and seek help at the time of the assault against them, or they were children who had no option but to tolerate and adapt to survive; this is why it is ‘Secondary Wounding’. Society doesn’t recognize or concern itself with our being suddenly triggered while driving a car, smelling a certain cologne, or attending a family gathering. We, however, try to bury our panic by the heavy shame we’ve been burdened to feel for decades. It’s been a pattern of behavior that has been the expectation and taught tolerances throughout centuries.

Can our human society see the damage and destruction of these types of offenses? Are we ready to see with compassion while we provide education, awareness, support and early intervention? Let’s use this time to talk with our children and teens to help them understand what types of offenses these are and how no one has a right to harm or use force against another person. We need to educate about what our justice system is expected to provide; prosecution for offenders and punishment for those who falsely accuse, thus making innocent persons victims by overzealous prosecutors who pressure fearful good people into plea deals without evidence of any crime. Can we change our future so that it is equal in the respect for all human life as intended within the writing of our American Constitution and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights?

The greatest tragedy of our society is that we have passed these distorted gender roles and beliefs, behaviors and reactions throughout centuries. The topic of these offenses is not an issue to be separated by political party lines. It’s not a Democratic, Republican, or Liberal issue; it is a human issue. Our expectations should hold our leaders accountable for their behavior and their history should be above reproach. We cannot have a negative attitude and belief in the tolerances any longer. Our justice leaders with the attitude of ‘good ol’ boy’ behavior should not be the ones determining how we handle prosecution and justice for these crimes.

Remember that politicians are people just like us before they started living a more luxury provided life. We need to stop bashing and shaming people who have been assaulted and harmed by these very serious behaviors. It’s time to realize just how many human beings are dealing with a history of fear from personal violence or attacks. Every leader probably knows or was raised during the past generations of harsh home environments and should, therefore, show compassion and not accept injustice or inequality of any form.

**CDC reports 1 in 4 children affected by some type of harm. Picture the homes around you. Do you suspect or maybe know a neighbor, or family member, maybe see yourself living in a distressful situation? Please get help, for them and for yourself. We deserve to live safe, be safe, and live ‘No Longer Afraid to Breathe’.

Live Strong & Fly Free!!

@ButterflyDreamsAlliance

http://www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

The beginning steps of Human Trafficking

 

 

It’s like your emotional brain has a cold

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I know locally in Southern Illinois there is an effort to inform society about Mental Illness and what we can do to help. 

The day to day forms of mental illness you see in family and friends can be anything from the equivalent of I have a cold to I’m having a heart attack. Mild mental illness is quite common in our high-stress life, especially if you’re spending all your time on the internet or social sites worrying about how popular your post or comment might be. This is usually even more stressful or depressing for teens or young adults who have gone through some difficult experiences; they need to feel that acceptance – they fit in – they do belong somewhere.

If anyone asks how we are doing or if they do say something to us; we probably deny anything is wrong and keep on smiling. Only a few open up and say; I’m feeling down. I’m feeling stressed. I’m feeling……

The key words, ‘I’m feeling’; consider if you had a headache, you wouldn’t tell the world but you would probably take an aspirin or drink a soothing tea. If it was there the next day you’d try to figure out why it’s still there; take another aspirin or another soothing tea. Many of us would do this for a week or so, then we would seek some type of medical check to see what’s going on and why we can’t get rid of the damn headache.

Your son or daughter who seems depressed all the time, may not be contemplating suicide, but it doesn’t mean that school, relationships, or work are not getting heavy for them. Perhaps in a teen, you begin to see an increase in acne or lower grades, poor eating habits. Maybe they isolate themselves to the privacy of their room and only rarely interact with anyone. Perhaps in an adult friend, they seem quieter or less open than normal. Maybe you don’t see them outside or leaving the house. Maybe your coworker seems like they cannot concentrate or they are having to focus so hard on work they don’t even enjoy a joke or a smile at the water cooler.

I am this person…… at least one day a week if not more I have to rise above the depression and get out of my own head for awhile.

When the weather is nice, at least warmer, this is usually easier to do. However, if you cannot get away from the thoughts or the stress, there is a high risk of things becoming more difficult rather than easier. If you do not have family around to help, if you are a single parent, if you are just in a challenging situation day after day, or even a few days a week; this should be when you start reaching out for a connection with someone, somewhere. Create an anonymous name and go online to share what’s going on with another close acquaintance. Careful what you share online, however, let’s not give out any personal information; keep yourself and your location safe unless you are sure of whom you are communicating with. Be smarter and more cautious online, because if you don’t actually know the person, then how do you know what they will or will not do with the details you give them.

The problems become more difficult when we carry so much inside and rarely let things out that really bother us.  Kind of like pushing yourself from the common cold to a major illness or heart attack. The common AMI we see in almost everyone at some point just needs a bit of your positive inspiration to lift up the shade for a bit so the light can get in. Use the renewal of warmer weather and all the blossoms of new life, that time when you do Spring Cleaning; clear the clutter and dust out the cobwebs of our emotions once in awhile as well.

When you do see a person with rage problems or violent outbursts, ranting threats and other such things; this is a person who needs some help and if they don’t or won’t get it on their own, then your only option may be to force through some type of legal process if possible or make them an offer they can’t refuse; such as, ‘I’ll take the kids for the weekend while you decompress.’

Mental Illness doesn’t have to be a lifetime prohibitor, it can indeed many times be figured out and treated, to at least prevent some type of harm to yourself or others, especially if you are around children. If you believe someone you know is becoming more withdrawn or more angry; please remember; this is someone you care about. Help them be brave enough to help themselves, even if that means going along for the checkup. Just like if they were worried about a cancer diagnosis, they might be just as worried about a visit with a psychiatrist to evaluate their emotional stability.

In May and all year long, can you make a commitment to just watch out for those people you care about? You don’t need to watch everyone online or in your neighborhood. We are populated enough that most have someone around, but when dealing with a mental illness they may have burned bridges to family and ties that could and would help them today. If you’re a close neighbor or a concerned co-worker you just might be the only light in the tunnel for them. At least be a person who shows empathy, not sympathy or judgement.

See the world with eyes wide open; no blinders to avoid the bad stuff! The bad stuff is real life for someone and they need us to keep the circle of help running through our schools, our health centers, and definitely in our neighborhoods and our families.

**Mental Health can be any form of Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Multiple Personality Disorder or more. Most of us understand there is Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and then Any Mental Illness (AMI). We usually see the SMI cases through the news headlines, and AMI in our friends and family, co-workers & neighbors.

Truth is – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml

  • In 2016, there were an estimated 44.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with AMI. This number represented 18.3% of all U.S. adults.

Any Mental Illness accounts for these millions of Americans but less than half actually sought out help and/or treatment. Personally, I’m guessing it’s gotta be the stigma attached to being diagnosed. However, maybe it’s because most of us feel depressed and have anxiety about things all the time. We have anger problems, lose control inside our home or at family gatherings but everyone says ‘Calm down’ then moves on to the next family drama.

Only you can be the one to make a choice to address the topic and be watchful of those around you. Together we can create a safer, healthier, happier and more equal society for everyone!!

Thanks for reading

#MHAM #NAMI #NIMH

Be kind 🙂 trish

@ButterflyDreamsAlliance

www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

 

 

 

#MeToo sparks a new focus on the ‘Sex Talk’ with your teens

In our modern world of ‘Fingertip’ media access our teens are seeing the #MeToo movement bring worldwide awareness to sexually related harms. They are hearing about cases of Child Sexual Abuse & Human Trafficking almost daily. Your daughters & sons are reading the headlines, and talking amongst themselves, but do they fully understand how these types of behaviors happen? Do they really understand what human trafficking is or how to help someone they know who is being harmed or abused, shared or exploited; trapped in silence and shame about their worst fears?

Hopefully, you will read this article, have your teen read it, and then have a very open conversation about it so they absorb what is and is not appropriate behavior in our evolving laws and standards of how we value another human life. Hopefully, if you have a high school student you are encouraging them to beware of the online predators, but also to beware of those closest to them; approx 95% of these harms are committed by someone they depend on for survival or those in their closest circle.

Have you had that very real talk about the changes in acceptable interpersonal relationship behavior?

Keep in mind; Law mandates NO PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 18 CAN CONSENT TO SEXUAL INTERACTIONS!!! https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2422 (Federal mandate, but each state is different, most 16 years or older; some permit 12 if the other person is no more than 4 years older) Know and teach your teen the age of consent and the meaning of consent so they can understand and help a close friend in the cloudy waters of teen behavior.

Do you know that if a boyfriend or girlfriend intimidates, manipulates, or forces you to engage in sexual activity with another person, that it is Human Trafficking, ‘Pimping’ and could lead to some serious legal ramifications?

Does your son know that even when a girl is enticing him to engage in a sexual act, then gets angry because he breaks up with her or because it’s a one time thing; does your son realize he can be accused of a sexual offense, and if convicted (regardless of age) could be sent to prison and be a Registered Sex Offender for the rest of their lives? Yes, your son or daughter, could find their lives completely destroyed for a behavior pushed through mainstream society and media since the beginning of mankind himself?

Does your daughter know that when she sends that nude or revealing photo of herself to someone, that she could be charged with pornography or enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity?

Do you realize that if you rush to file a legal complaint when your teen comes to you with an admission of sexual harm or harassment, that you have to be able to talk about the details; both their behavior and the person they are accusing. You need to ensure that it wasn’t a mutual act gone badly between two young human beings. If you do not talk about the details before charges are brought against all those who fail to follow up or respond the right way after engaging in what they believe is mutually equal sexual activity; it could lead to an innocent young person’s life being destroyed over a misunderstanding or a single non-harming decision. Confirm the facts before you contact the police.

Perhaps it was the other person’s first time? Perhaps your teen really did lead the other person to believe they were older than they are, or that they mutually wanted the interaction to occur? I know how difficult that is to admit because I raised two daughters and a son. I’ve raised the teens who have been sexually influenced as young children, lived in a home of dysfunction; yet no one ever talked about it or provided any services, or support to rebuild their sense of value and understanding of sexual behaviors. I know because I tried more than once to get them help.

I know well how living inside a challenging family lifestyle or a directly harming environment can lead to looking for love and respect in all the wrong ways. None of us is perfect. Teens don’t always understand the violence and harm inside schools, on their streets, shared across social media, and our mainstream media. They get pressured or engage in alcohol, dangerous substances, and hormonal behaviors. If we are going to hold them accountable then give them the knowledge. Help them through the muddy, confusing journey of teenage years, especially in a society that has lived and learned by way of what we say today is absolutely unacceptable. Keep in mind we’ve pretty much created the ‘HOOKUP’ culture since the 90’s and rap music promoted women and girls as ‘HOES’. Now we give them ‘FINGERTIP’ access to porn, violence, hookup sites, and multimedia influences and simply expect them to know appropriate behaviors. However, while politicians are updating laws and enforcing prosecutions, no one is having open conversations about how it is meant to change what they’ve been taught is ‘normal’.

As a survivor of child sex trafficking in a Southern Illinois community; one who lived through a decade of my parents brute violence, rape, neglect, and dismissal of evil that affected my very survival. It created a learned behavior of tolerance and a distorted perception of any sense of personal value. It’s taken years of rebuilding, researching, and constant daily efforts to erase the person they created. Today I am a warrior for protection of our children and prosecution of these grievous offenses. However, if we are not living by the example and educating our kids about what it means for them, then we are going to see an entire generation of people prosecuted and registered sex offenders.

We have to address the challenges of our own human influences and behaviors that we represent to our youth and young children every day. We have to be strong enough to discuss it with them so that if their life is safe, they will know what to do when their friend is being harmed or has had a bad experience touch their lives. We have to give them the knowledge and the tools to watch out for the kids around them; siblings, cousins, neighbors, friends. We have to give them the example to create a more equal, safe, and just society because they are the leaders of tomorrow. They will live in the aftermath of our decisions and changes that we apply today. It is their world now, so it’s time to have those real conversations to empower them and inspire the future we are paving the way for today. 

As adults, we should be asking schools, hospitals, law enforcement, social services, parents, community leaders, and neighbors to help our kids through all these changing views and policies. Remember, throughout centuries, and especially since the creation of music videos & internet; WE have raised our children with specific gender and sexual behaviors. Now with the swipe of a pen, we expect them to know all of those changes and what is appropriate behavior. We expect them to behave and know better regardless of what someone might be doing to THEM or what THEIR home life represents.

How are they going to be the way of the future if their life is being twisted up by some type of inappropriate or misguided behavior? Sadly, young girls are still being taught, either by actions or society, that their only value is in their sexuality and not because they are intelligent, kind and amazing individuals. Kudos to Justin Timberlake for making a choice to change his music style because he doesn’t want his son to grow up with a view of women even his music created.

What conversations will you have with your friends about this article? What kind of conversations will you have with your kids? How are our changing views in society and the updates in our laws influencing your life and the lives of our youth; the lives of success and failure we want them to give their children?

It’s time to have that talk in a whole new way!!!

 

Butterfly Dreams – HEALING OUR PAST TO CLAIM THEIR FUTURE!!!

If you have questions about this article, please contact me personally

trish@butterflydreamsalliance.org

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Thanks for reading 🙂 

 

Trish

www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

www.facebook.com/butterflydreamsalliance

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